2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Top 10 Prospects Chat With John Perrotto





Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects lists are based on projections of a player's long-term worth after discussions with scouting and player-development personnel. All players who haven't exceeded the major league rookie standards of 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched (without regard to service time) are eligible. Ages are as of April 1, 2011.

Moderator: John Perrotto will answer Pirates questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): John, what are scouts saying about 1B Jose Osuna? Did he reach your top 30?

John Perrotto: First of all, hello everyone. It's so good to be back after a year away. I've been ranking the Pirates' top prospects for Baseball America since the early 1990s and the farm system is as deep now as it's ever been during that time. Now on to Jose Osuna. He is very raw as he was scouted mainly as a pitcher as an amateur until he mysteriously lost velocity on his fastball as a 15-year-old. He is very raw as a hitter and is not a great athlete. That being said, you have to like a teenager who shows plus power and plus plate discipline. He is in the lower portion of the top 30 but he is definitely a player to watch.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Did Alex Dickerson get top 10 consideration?

John Perrotto: The system is a little too deep to consider Dickerson a top 10 guy just yet but I could see him cracking it next winter if he has a good first full season in the minor leagues. He certainly has a lot of potential and the opportunity should be there for him to advance as the Pirates don't have a real top-flight first base prospect, though Matt Curry is intriguing.

    Frank (Chicago): How many of the top 10 would you consider worthy of being on BA's top 100 list?

John Perrotto: I would say the top five, for sure: Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, Starling Marte and Luis Heredia.

    Ben (Leland Grove): What's your evaluation of RHP Nick Kingham?

John Perrotto: I like him a lot and he definitely received serious consideration for the top 10. He's got a good arm and a real good feel for pitching. He was impressive in the New York-Penn League this year and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in Low A in 2012.

    Grant (NYC): What did you think of Von Rosenberg's season in WV? Promotion worthy, or will he repeat next year?

John Perrotto: I liked that he finished the season strongly but I don't think it would hurt for him to start back at West Virginia next season with an early-season promotion to Bradenton if he gets off to a good start.

    Harry (Pittsburgh): Between Rudy Owens and Bryan Morris, who came closer to your top 10? Would you still consider both to be viable prospects?

John Perrotto: Morris ranked a little bit higher than Owens. I think both are certainly still viable prospects, though 2012 will be a big year for both to show they are either ready for the major leagues or very close.

    Jake (New York): Did Clay Holmes make your top 30? Why or why not? Thanks John.

John Perrotto: Yes, he did. He has a big arm, good stuff, good command and is an extremely bright kid. There is a lot to like there.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Was it a close call between Cole and Taillon for the top spot, or was Cole your clear-cut choice?

John Perrotto: It was a fairly close call but almost everyone I consulted with felt that Cole was No. 1 at this time because of his experience and better pure stuff. That being said, I wouldn't have felt a made a mistake if I did have Taillon at No. 1 because he is awfully good.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Everyone was predicting there was no chance Bell would sign. What exactly was the turning point for him?

John Perrotto: Well, I think it's hard to say no to $5 million when you're a teenager. The Pirates kept upping the price until he couldn't say no. Also, the Pirates' scout in Texas, Mike Leuzinger, handled the situation well, as did the front office. They were persistent in trying to get Bell signed without being too heavy-handed.

    Howard (Tampa, FL): Does Josh Bell draw any comps to you?

John Perrotto: Nobody that just jumps out but I will say this from having had a chance to meet him after he signed —- he just looks like a player. It's kind of hard to explain but you just look at him and he just looks the part.

    Sam (PIT, PA): Wesley Freeman - prospect or suspect?

John Perrotto: I'm not ready to right him off yet, so I'll call him a borderline prospect.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Is Mel Rojas on your top 30 radar? Would you consider him to have 5-tool potential?

John Perrotto: He's in the top 30 and he has five-tool potential. Rojas is very raw, though, and it's going to take a little time for him to refine his game.

    Andy (Sarver): How close was Colton Cain? I got a chance to see him pitch. I feel he has a higher upside than Justin Wilson because of control.

John Perrotto: I like Cain a lot, too, and he received strong consideration for the top 10. He'll start off at Bradenton next year. The Pirates won't rush him but I have the feeling he may force the issue of some quick promotions in the next year or two because he is pretty polished.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Of the pitchers advancing from short season State College to full season West Virginia, who is your favorite?

John Perrotto: Nick Kingham, for reasons I mentioned earlier. He is very intriguing.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Shortstop Gift Ngoepe showed some hitting skills - is there any chance a major league announcer will have Gift's name rolling off his tonge in the years to come?

John Perrotto: I think there's a chance he'll make it to the major leagues. He has great athleticism and a great work ethic, so he'll at least give himself a chance. From a purely personal standpoint, I'd love to see it happen because he is a wonderful kid.

    cliff jordan (chicago): West Virginia had some top-level arms this past season, but Cain, Pounders and others did not make the top 10. Is this because they just got bumped by better prospects or have they slipped in general? Thanks!

John Perrotto: Cain was bumped by better prospects but I have a hard time getting excited about Pounders as a high school kid who was a second-round draft choice but has already began pitching in relief.

    tony (wisconsin): where do you see kingman and holmes fitting into pirates plans in five years?

John Perrotto: They could both very well be in the starting rotation in 2016.

    GC (Ohio): Pirates have invested heavily in high school pitchers in the last few drafts, is the strategy bearing any fruit?

John Perrotto: It's been a mixed bag. Colton Cain and Nick Kingham are certainly working out well. Some of the others, like Quinton Miller, haven't. They are still young, so it's going to take more time before we know for sure who is going to pan out.

    Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): Mat Hague and Rudy Owens were added to the 40 man roster. Can you tell us something about their potential and ceilings?

John Perrotto: Hague had a nice year at Triple-A this year but I really don't foresee him as being more than a bench bat at the major-league level because he doesn't have the home run power you want in a first baseman. Owens was the Pirates' minor-league pitcher of the year in 2009 and 2010 but struggled at Triple-A last season. I think he deserves a mulligan for last year and I think he'll end up pitching in the major leagues as a mid-rotation and back-end starter.

    Jacob (DC): Is there a more exciting potential outfield in 2014-2015 than Bell, Marte and Mccutchen?

John Perrotto: It would be a pretty athletic trio, for sure, and a fly-ball pitcher would feel really good with those guys behind them. Beyond that, all three have the chance to be plus offensive players.

    Jacob (DC): What do you see Josh Bell's best big league seasons looking like?

John Perrotto: .275-40-115

    Craig (Pittsburgh, PA): How much better is the overall minor league system compared to 5 years ago? Is it much better or only marginally improved? Given the many trades and high end picks it still seems lacking, especially when compared to a team like Kansas City.

John Perrotto: It's certainly improved. I'd say somewhere between much better and significantly improved. I do like the high-end guys, especially the top five. I think the Pirates' top five can match up with just about any other organization's top five. They could still use some more depth but so could almost every other organization.

    Jacob (DC): What sort of a prospect is Jarek Cunningham? Did he crack the top 30?

John Perrotto: I like him because he's a middle infielder with power. That being said, he needs to stay healthy and cut down on the strikeouts, if he is going to reach his full potential. And. yes, he is in the top 30.

    Dan (Lansing): How big a gap is there between Cole and Taillon/ Anything specific?

John Perrotto: Pretty narrow in my opinion. Cole got the nod because he's a little more experienced and his stuff, at this stage, is just a little better across the board.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): Any thoughts on how the new CBA will affect the draft? Did the Pirates strike big just in time? Will it ever be worth it to spend so much on the draft that you lose future picks? Perhaps to "cap a wave"?

John Perrotto: I think the CBA is going to hurt small-market teams like the Pirates and Royals who have found that going over slot to draft high-end talent is one way they can compete with the large-revenue clubs.

    Matt (Cranberry): Hi John - How close was Matt Curry to making the list? I know he struggled after the jump to AA, but he still put together a pretty decent year. Thanks!

John Perrotto: His struggled at Class AA kept him from getting serious consideration for the top 10 but he is in the top 30.

    Raoul (Tucson, Az.): John, how close was Matt Hague to your top 10 and do you see him as a factor in the big leagues next year? Thanks for the chat.

John Perrotto: Not close to the top 10. I could see him as a bench bat in 2012 or 2013.

    Big E (Ann Arbor, MI): Hi John, how much did Grossman's hamate injury affect where he fell in your Pirates Top 10? Thanks!

John Perrotto: Actually, would kept him down a little bit was the fact that he had so much success while repeating a level. I would have been more impressed if he'd had a big year in his first season at the High-A level. That being said, a few year down the road, we could very well look back at this top 10 and ask why Robbie Grossman was so low.

    Pony (Chicago): John, The Pirates seem to have 3 great pitching prospects but the one that I find the most intriguing is Luis Heredia. Is he the type of player that we can someday expect to see in the top 10 on BA's top 100 list? Also, would Felix Hernandez at 17 be a fair comparison to him? If not who would be a good pro comparison? Thank you.

John Perrotto: The sky is the limit for Heredia and I don't think it's out of the question that he could become a No. 1 starter like King Felix. He's just so young and such a wild card right now that it's hard to project exactly what he is going to be but he certainly has the chance to be something very special.

    Brian (Pittsburgh): When do you expect Starling Marte to get the call to the bigs?

John Perrotto: September, 2012. Perhaps a bit earlier depending on what moves are made between now and next season's All-Star break, and also how well he adapts to Triple-A ball.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Do you see Dickerson developing enough power to be a real middle of the line-up first baseman or is he going to wind up as a gap hitter for average in the Olerud - Overbay mold? Thanks for the chat.

John Perrotto: He projects as a Overbay-type right now because he hits the ball to all fields, but he could certainly become a middle-of-the-order guy once he learns to turn on more inside pitches.

    Dan (Bristol, CT): Hi John, thanks for the chat. Did Elevys Gonzalez's solid season in the FSL earn him any organizational accolades? What's his ceiling at 3B?

John Perrotto: Gonzalez profiles more as a utility man. I realize the Florida State League is a pitchers' league but it's hard to project a guy who hit five homers at Bradenton in a full season to be a big-league corner infielder. Still, he has some value because he can play second base and shortstop.

    Ian (Pittsburgh): Why was Tony Sanchez so invisible this year? Did he take a step back this year with his 'meh' season in AA?

John Perrotto: He just had a bad all-round year and there is no doubt that he needs to come back strong in 2012 to remain a top prospect. The biggest disappointment for me was that he took a step backward defensively. That's his strong suit and the reason he was the fourth overall pick in the draft. That being said, I'm certainly not ready to write him off. Let's see what happens next season.

    Ian (Pittsburgh): Besides Heredia, do the Pirates have any impact-quality Latin American prospects? Is Gayo doing a good job scouting talent?

John Perrotto: I really like what I hear about Alen Hanson, the speedy middle infield who played in the Gulf Coast League this year. He's extremely athletic and very fast, though he needs to add some strength. Catcher Ramon Cabrera won the Florida State League batting title this year, though he needs work on his defense. I think Rene Gayo is doing a good job. You have to remember that he was handcuffed until the last few years by a small budget and a ramshackle Dominican academy.

    Robert (Secaucus, NJ): Ramon Cabrera had a very impressive season with the bat in high A ball last year, though his defense didn't appear to be anything special. Did he get top 30 consideration?

John Perrotto: He's in the top 30.

    Michael Stern (Rochester NY): Allie was horrendous this year - surprised to see him in the top 10. Pirates still have faith?

John Perrotto: He did have an awful year but there still aren't many guys under the legal drinking age who throw 100 mph.

    JD (AZ): John, wondering your assessment of Drew Maggi? Thanks

John Perrotto: He has some tools and a good feel for the game. He didn't warrant serious top 30 consideration this year but he was at least in the conversation and I could see him cracking the list next year if he continues to improve.

    StP (Sarasota): Twenty in a row?

John Perrotto: Looking that way but let's see what the rest of the offseason brings.

John Perrotto: Well, thank you so much for all the great questions. Hopefully, I gave you some insightful answers. It was a lot of fun. Let's do it again next year!